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Web Accessibility: Theory Or Practice A UserFocussed Approach To Web Accessibility Guidelines

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Based at the University of Bath. Interests: Emerging Web ... learning outcomes, not necessarily ... need to an evidence-based approach and less ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Web Accessibility: Theory Or Practice A UserFocussed Approach To Web Accessibility Guidelines


1
Web Accessibility Theory Or Practice?A
User-Focussed Approach To Web Accessibility
Guidelines
http//www.ukoln.ac.uk/web-focus/events/conference
s/e-access06/
About This Talk This brief talk reviews some of
the limitations of conventional approaches to
addressing Web accessibility and outlines a
user-centred approach which provides a context
for use of WAI guidelines.
  • Brian Kelly
  • UKOLN
  • University of Bath
  • Bath

Email B.Kelly_at_ukoln.ac.uk
UKOLN is supported by
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonComme
rcial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat)
2
About Me
  • Brian Kelly
  • UK Web Focus
  • Web adviser to UK's higher further education
    community and cultural heritage sector
  • Works for UKOLN a national centre of expertise
    in digital information management
  • Based at the University of Bath
  • Interests
  • Emerging Web technologies e.g. Web 2.0
  • Use of open standards
  • Best practices
  • Accessibility

Particular interest in engaging with council
sector to help maximise Web's potential for
museums, library archives
3
Initial Web Accessibility Work
  • During late 1990s and early 2000s
  • Joint work with TechDis in advising HE/FE sector
    on best practices for Web accessibility
  • Initially promotion of WAI WCAG guidelines
  • Surveys of 160 UK HEI home pages carried out in
    Aug/Sept 2002 (repeated in 2004)
  • Results showed low levels of compliance (and this
    without any manual testing). Manual testing shows
    that pages reported as accessible may be
    inaccessible.

Similar findings obtained in other surveys
  • Implications
  • UK Universities don't care about Web
    accessibility
  • UK Universities don't know about Web
    accessibility
  • The guidelines may be flawed

4
W4A 2005 Reprise
  • At W4A 2005 conference we presented Forcing
    Standardization or Accommodating Diversity
  • The practical difficulties of using a standard
    to encapsulate design requirements to accommodate
    a diverse set of needs under a diverse set of
    circumstances
  • The achievements and limitations of WCAG in
    supporting this
  • The resultant difficulties (and absurdities) from
    legislation and policy that makes inappropriate
    reference to WCAG
  • Using the example of the e-learning sector we
    pointed the way to a more holistic view of Web
    accessibility
  • We received many positive comments on the ideas
    we presented

5
Limitations of the WAI Model
  • WAI approach has shortcomings
  • WAI model relies on conformant Web sites,
    conformant authoring tools, conformant user
    agents
  • and conformant users!
  • WCAG guidelines have flaws ("must use W3C
    formats must use latest versions ")
  • Has a Web-only view of the world
  • What about other IT solutions?
  • What about blended (real world) solutions?
  • Has a belief in a single universal solution
  • But isn't accessibility a very complex issue
  • Is it reasonable to expect an ideal solution to
    be developed at the first attempt?

6
Wider Concerns Over WCAG
http//alistapart.com/articles/tohellwithwcag2/
  • Joe Clark's "To Hell With WCAG 2.0" Blog posting
    has led to much discussion on the (technical)
    merits of the WCAG approach to Web accessibility
    and limitations of WCAG 2.0

7
The Importance of Context
  • We argue Web accessibility is about supporting
    users achieve real world goals
  • From Beyer Holzblatt (1998) the more you know
    about your target audience the more you can
    design to support them
  • So the goal of universal accessibility has
    changed to supporting a defined set of users in
    the best possible way
  • How can we use WCAG to achieve this?

8
Holistic Approach
  • Kelly, Phipps Swift developed a blended
    approach to e-learning accessibility
  • This approach
  • Focusses on the needs of the learner
  • Requires accessible learning outcomes, not
    necessarily e-learning resources

Follow-up work awarded prize for Best Research
Paper at ALT-C 2005 E-learning conference
9
Accessibility in Context
  • A framework has been developed which places
    accessibility usability within a wider context
  • The context
  • A range of policies
  • A compliance regime

Digital Library Programme
Context
Purpose
Sector
Funding
Resources

Research
Policies
Accessibility/Usability
Privacy
Finance
Standards

Compliance
External
Self-assessment
Penalties
Learning
Broken
10
Articulating the Approach
  • The "Tangram Metaphor" developed to avoid
    checklist / automated approach
  • W3C model has limitations
  • Jigsaw model implies single solution
  • Tangram model seeks to avoid such problems
  • This approach
  • Encourages developers to think about a diversity
    of solutions
  • Focus on 'pleasure' it provides to user

11
Tangram Model
  • Model allows us to
  • Focuses on end solution rather than individual
    components
  • Provided solutions tailored for end user
  • Doesn't limit scope (can you do better than WAI
    AAA?)
  • Make use of automated checking but ensures
    emphasis is on user satisfaction
  • Guidelines/standards for/from
  • WAI
  • Usability
  • Organisational
  • Dyslexic
  • Learning difficulties
  • Legal
  • Management (resources, )
  • Interoperability
  • Accessibility metadata
  • Mobile Web

12
Tangram Model Testability
  • "WCAG 2.0 success criteria are written as
    testable statements " (nb. automated human
    testing ?)
  • Issues
  • What about WCAG principles that don't have
    defined success criteria (e.g. "content must be
    understandable")?
  • What about 'baselines' context only known
    locally
  • What about differing models or / definitions of
    'accessibility'?
  • Note vendors of accessibility testing services
    will market WCAG tools e.g. see posting on BSI
    PAS 78
  • Tangram model can be used within WCAG
  • Distinguish between testable (ALT tags) and
    subjective (content understandable)
  • Supports baselines

Testable
Baseline 1
13
Does This Work For You?
  • Danger
  • WAI guidelines become an excuse not to do
    anything to fail to respond to users needs
    (Podcasting, Skype, Blogs, )
  • Scenarios
  • Podcasting or Skyping talks at conferences
  • Great I was ill couldn't make it
  • Bad No transcripts so breaks WCAG
  • Blogs Wikis for your users
  • Great Giving users a voice
  • Bad Tools may produce bad HTML no semantic
    markup

14
Conclusions
  • To conclude
  • WAI has provided a valuable starting point
  • Need to develop a richer underlying model
  • Need for Web accessibility to be placed in wider
    content
  • Contextual approach tangram metaphor aim to
    help inform such developments
  • Should the WAI approach be more open about
    contextualisation or should this be applied
    externally?
  • There's a need to an evidence-based approach and
    less ideology

15
Topics For Discussion
  • Topic 1 The key focus for accessibility should
    be the user.
  • Topic 2 Accessibility guidelines should be
    treated as guidelines, and not as infallible
    rules.
  • Topic 3 Automated testing is fundamentally
    flawed as an approach to checking accessibility.
  • Topic 4 Usability is as important as
    accessibility - and we mustn't ignore
    interoperability issues.
  • Topic 5 Web 2.0 technologies can provide
    valuable user services.

16
Questions
  • Questions are welcome

Note resources cited in the talk are bookmarked
in the del.icio.us social bookmarking service
using the tag ''e-access06"
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